August 17th, 2009
11:12 PM ET

Innocent man freed from prison after 23 years

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about Ernest Sonnier's case on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/17/art.vert.ernest.sonnier.jpg caption="Ernest Sonnier was sentenced to life but was released from prison after 23 years because DNA testing proved he was wrongfully convicted." width=292 height=320]

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Ernest Sonnier was 23 when he was arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping. He was taken in handcuffs from his Houston home and didn't leave prison for another 23 years.

A week and a half ago, at the age of 46, Sonnier was freed after essentially being told by prosecutors, sorry – but we now inform you that DNA evidence we've just gotten around to checking indicates you did not commit this crime.

And get this – when the DNA that was examined was compared with other specimens in police possession, it came up positive for two other men already in the system. Men who are felons, but are no longer in prison.

As you wonder whether or not authorities will arrest those other men, we can tell you the answer is no. It won't happen because the statute of limitations has expired. That's just some of the discouraging news about this case.

Also discouraging, is this: Ernest Sonnier is now the sixth person to be freed from prison after allegations of shoddy work from the same crime laboratory, which is run by the Houston police. Over the years, the lab has been accused of ineptitude, corruption, and has even suffered flooding and water leakage which led to the corruption of genetic materials.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gary Tuchman
August 17th, 2009
09:48 PM ET

Send us your health care questions!

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Health care reform has become quite a contentious issue over the weeks. Actually, make that years, or decades, depending on how you look at it. The rhetoric has ramped up on all sides of this debate and politicians, special interest groups and members of the public are weighing in with their concerns and opinions.

We're looking beyond the political battle at the proposed health care reform plan. We want to know what questions you have about the plans to overhaul the health care system. Do you need more clarification? What is most important to you?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta will answer your questions and give you specific information about what the reform could mean for you and your medical care.

Post your questions here!

Filed under: 360° Radar • Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care
August 17th, 2009
09:45 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 08/17/09

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Is Pres. Obama wavering on a key component of his health care reform plan? Tonight we'll look at what it could mean for you and your family. Plus, a deal to sell some Michael Jackson memorabilia. And, why you're likely carrying around cocaine in your pocket.

Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
August 17th, 2009
06:41 PM ET
August 17th, 2009
06:08 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Health Care Showdown

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/17/health.care/art.obama.cnn.jpg caption= "President Obama "believes the public option is the best way" to reform health care, a White House aide says."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Is a compromise in the works to get health care reform approved on Capitol Hill? The big question is: Will there be a so-called "public option", a government health care plan similar to Medicare. It's been the central focus of Pres. Obama's pitch. But Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union", Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, said that a public insurance plan is "not the essential element."

To critics this move seems to be a concession to Republican lawmakers who don't like the idea of government paying a bigger role in health care. Yet, there's also frustration from those on the left who say the "public option" is vital.

We'll have the raw politics. And, we'll look at a possible alternative to the"public option." We've got the facts you need to know.

Also tonight, a mistake on death row? The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a death row inmate's request for an appeal. The Georgia prisoner swears he's not a cop killer. Several witnesses for the prosecution have recanted their testimony. But others believe he's guilty.

And, the mayor of Milwaukee viciously beaten at the Wisconsin State Fair. One minute he's having a great time with his family. The next, a guy is hitting him over the head with a metal pipe.

From Wisconsin to Washington and beyond, join us for these stories and much more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
August 17th, 2009
06:02 PM ET

Health care in America

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/17/health.care/art.obama.cnn.jpg caption="President Obama believes the public option is the best way to reform health care, a White House aide says."]


The White House sought to reassure jittery supporters Monday that President Obama is not abandoning the fight for a public health insurance option.

The assurance came amid a media firestorm ignited over the weekend by administration officials seeming to indicate a willingness to drop such an option in order to secure congressional approval of a health care reform bill.

The verbal maneuvering reflected the steep political challenge facing an administration trying to balance the competing priorities of the more conservative Senate and the more liberal House of Representatives.

Click here to check out CNN.com special, 'Health care in America'.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Health Care
August 17th, 2009
04:05 PM ET

Arrest made in attack on Milwaukee mayor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/16/milwaukee.mayor.attacked/art.tom.barrett.gi.jpg caption="Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, seen in a file photo, was attacked Saturday night, police say."]

Chuck Johnston

A 20-year-old Wisconsin man accused of attacking the mayor of Milwaukee with a metal pipe has been arrested, police said Sunday.

Mayor Tom Barrett was in stable condition Sunday at a Milwaukee-area hospital after he was attacked the night before at the Wisconsin State Fair in nearby West Allis, police said.

Barrett was leaving the event with his family when he heard a woman crying for help, police said.

When Barrett began calling 911, the man who had been attacking the woman charged at him and began battering him with a metal pipe, police said.

Keep reading...

August 17th, 2009
03:56 PM ET

Beat 360° – 08/17/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

US President Barack Obama takes a bite of an ice creme as with his daughter Sasha (L) and niece Suhalia Ng (R) look on at the Yellowstone General Store after visit the Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, August 15, 2009. (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.



Joey Gardner

“Figures. Even my ice cream is a Rocky Road.”


Bob, Massillon, OH

“This ice cream is like Congress … too many nuts in it.”

_________________________________________________________________________________ Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
August 17th, 2009
03:36 PM ET

The NAACP's "I am Troy" campaign

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/17/georgia.scotus.troy.davis/art.davis.courtesy.jpg caption="Troy Davis has always maintained his innocence in the 1989 killing of Officer Mark MacPhail."]


Troy Anthony Davis is an African American man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. There is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted. New evidence and new testimony have been presented to the Georgia courts, but the justice system refuses to consider this evidence, which would prove Troy Davis’ innocence once and for all.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Crime & Punishment
August 17th, 2009
03:29 PM ET

Plea for the victim from sister

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/17/georgia.scotus.troy.davis/art.davis.courtesy.jpg caption="Troy Davis has always maintained his innocence in the 1989 killing of Officer Mark MacPhail."]

Joe Johnson
Athens Banner-Herald

Kathy MacPhail-McQuary will travel from her home in Oconee County this week to place a wreath on the spot in Savannah where her police officer brother was murdered 20 years ago.

Although Mark Allen MacPhail's killer was convicted and sentenced to death, her wounds have not healed in the two decades that have passed.

They have festered, in fact, as she's watched a movement grow to gain clemency or a new trial for Troy Anthony Davis, who has been on death row for 18 years for killing her brother after he stopped Davis and another man from pistol-whipping a homeless man.

Former President Jimmy Carter has advocated on Davis' behalf, along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Amnesty International, the ACLU – and even the pope.

The NAACP mounted an "I Am Troy" campaign to free the man the civil rights group says is innocent yet condemned to death. On Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network will hold its annual summer conference in Atlanta, focusing on the Davis case.

"Every time someone reads a newspaper article, they will see a little bit written about Mark," MacPhail-McQuary said. "They don't see him as the victim because everything else is all about poor, poor Troy Davis.

"They don't know the facts, they haven't seen the evidence," she said. "I have friends in Athens who want to know why they never hear anything about Mark's story."

MacPhail was both thoughtful and sensitive; he could be serious yet act the clown, his sister says.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment
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